State of the Union

As I read through the transcript, here are my thoughts...

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country.

We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life.

We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity.

In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting, yet it ends in danger and decline.

The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership.

So the United States of America will continue to lead.

I like it. I like the tone. I like the determination. Now, if only he will back up his words with actions...

BUSH: Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal: We seek the end of tyranny in our world.

Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it.

On September the 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country.

Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction.

Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror.

BUSH: Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom's cause.

Very true. A little optimistic and somewhat hypocritical if you look at countries such as North Korea, Venezuela, and even Saudi Arabia but true, nonetheless.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time.

In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today there are 122.

And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government, with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom.

BUSH: At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran -- because the demands of justice and the peace of this world require their freedom as well.

I didn't realize the statistic. I knew there had been an exponential increase in the number of democracies, I just didn't realize how big the exponent was. I'm curious to know whether we are just going to TALK about places like Syria and Iran or if we are actually going to DO something...

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it.

BUSH: And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam; the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death.

Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.

They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.

When they murder children at a school in Beslan or blow up commuters in London or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth.

BUSH: But they have miscalculated. We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

Sure would be nice if the rest of the world would find a pair and join the fight.

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.

There is no peace in retreat.

BUSH: And there is no honor in retreat.

Take that, Senator Murtha. No retreat. No surrender. No end but victory.

By allowing radical Islam to work its will, by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself, we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals or even in our own courage.

But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.


America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies and faced down an evil empire.

Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace.

BUSH: We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders. And, for the others, their day will come.

We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a fine president and a national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy.


We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.

First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized.

Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom.

Third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy.

BUSH: Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.

Ok, I'm thrilled to see a list of the positive things that are happening in Iraq. But this is not a "plan". As for the reconstruction, we might just want to get with Congress on this one...

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections.

At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces.

I am confident in our plan for victory. I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people. I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military.

Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.


BUSH: The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home.

As we make progress on the ground and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels. But those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.


Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We have adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction.

Amen again.

BUSH: Along the way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties.

In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice. Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure.


Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.

Very well said.

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor.

BUSH: A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country and show that a pledge from America means little.

Members of Congress, however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies and stand behind the American military in its vital mission.


Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear.

BUSH: They know what it's like to fight house to house in a maze of streets, to wear heavy gear in the desert heat, to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb.

And those who know the costs also know the stakes.

No retreat. No surrender.

Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fabiani. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American.

Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to.

"Never falter. Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who had the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening.


BUSH: Welcome.


Our nation is grateful to the fallen who live in the memory of our country.

BUSH: We are grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform.

And, as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families.

SGT Clay's wife, Lisa, is a member of The National Military Family Association. My prayers go out to her and her family. I can't imagine how horrible this must be for her but, at the same time, what an honor to have been at the State of the Union. And what an honor to be present when the President conveys his gratitude toward all military families. I don't know that I would have the strength to do that.

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change.

So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East.

BUSH: Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning.

Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

The great people of Egypt have voted in a multiparty presidential election, and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism.

The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism and work for lasting peace.


Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform. Now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts.

BUSH: Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.

I'm thinking the idea about Hamas might be a pipe dream...

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon, and that must come to an end.


The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.


BUSH: America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

And, tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.

Otherwise, we might just have to wiep you from the face of the Earth. Sure would make ME feel better...

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress and fighting disease and spreading hope in hopeless lands.

BUSH: Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies; it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need.

We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God- given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery.

We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption and despair are sources of terrorism and organized crime and human trafficking and the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform.

BUSH: For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security and dull the conscience of our country.

I urge members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us.

Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks.


BUSH: They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime -- so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Most definitely.

It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to Al Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late.

BUSH: So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected Al Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America.

Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed.

The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with Al Qaida, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

Anyone who wants to know my thoughts on the Patriot act can go read Our Right to Security and then come back and talk to me.

BUSH: In all these areas -- from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions -- we need the support of our friends and allies.

To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act.

The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world.

Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth.

American leaders -- from Roosevelt, to Truman, to Kennedy, to Reagan -- rejected isolation and retreat because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy, a war that will be fought by presidents of both parties who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress.

BUSH: And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom.

I don't understand why this concept is so hard to get behind.

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.

Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined.


BUSH: Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

The American economy is preeminent, but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. And this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears.

So we're seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy.

Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes.

BUSH: We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy, even though this economy could not function without them.


All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction: toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

Same lessons that I learned from Mr. Hermans in high school Econ.

Tonight I will set out a better path: an agenda for a nation that competes with confidence, an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs.

Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing.

BUSH: And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save and invest.

In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses and families. And they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth.


Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years.

If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome.

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief.

I urge the Congress to act responsibly and make the tax cuts permanent.

*nodding head "YES!!!" vigorously!

BUSH: Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars.

Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of nonsecurity discretionary spending. And last year you passed bills that cut this spending.

This year my budget will cut it again and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities.

By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.

Sounds good to me. We'll see if it actually happens...

BUSH: I am pleased that the members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto.


We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements.

This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turns 60, including two of my dad's favorite people: me and President Clinton.



This milestone is more than a personal crisis.


It is a national challenge.

BUSH: The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices: staggering tax increases, immense deficits or deep cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security...


... yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away.

BUSH: And with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This commission should include members of Congress of both parties and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.

He shouldn't be worrying so much about himself and Slick Willy but more about his daughters. Because Social Security will NOT be around when THEY get ready to retire.

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow.

BUSH: One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American.

With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out- produce or out-compete the American worker.


Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values and serves the interests of our economy.

Our nation needs orderly and secure borders.


To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection.


BUSH: And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.


Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care.


Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility.


For all Americans -- for all Americans -- we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need.

BUSH: We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors.

We will strengthen health savings accounts, making sure individuals and small-business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.


We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance.


And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.


Sure would be nice. But actions speak louder than words. Tort reform and medical liablity reform are two things that I was truly hoping to see tackled in his second term but I've disappointed thus far. Where is that "spending of political capital" he spoke of before?

BUSH: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources. And we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.


BUSH: We must also change how we power our automobiles.

We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.

We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks or switch grass.

Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.


BUSH: Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

By applying...


By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum- based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.

Can anyone give me a definative number in terms of what our actual dependence is on Middle Eastern oil? I was under the impression that the bulk of our oil comes from places such as Venezuela.

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people, and we are going to keep that edge.

BUSH: Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative to encourage innovation throughout our economy and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.


First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing and alternative energy sources.

Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology.


BUSH: With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.


Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.

Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs.

BUSH: If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

You don't even want to get me started on NCLB...

Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative and, together, we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001.

BUSH: There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades.

And the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.


These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation, a revolution of conscience in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment.

Government has played a role.

Wise policies such as welfare reform, and drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country.

And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record.

It's nice to hear some positive statistics occasionally.

BUSH: Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture and the health of our most basic institutions.

They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline or that our culture is doomed to unravel.

The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before, and we will do it again.

We also worry about the media and society that focus on unworthy news stories such as Paris Hilton's love life and Angelina Jolie's baby. We worry about judges that see fit to release admitted child molesters back into society rather than protect the most vulnerable members of our society. We worry about a lot...

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law.

The Supreme Court now has two superb new members -- new members on its bench: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito.


BUSH: I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law and not legislate from the bench.


Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.


BUSH: A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners and that recognize the matchless value of every life.

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.

Human life is a gift from our creator, and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.


BUSH: A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust.


Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington.

I support your efforts.

Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility, and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss and never betray.


As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.


Boy, wouldn't THAT be nice...

BUSH: As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child.

And this good work is led by our first lady, Laura Bush.


This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency and stays at it until they're back on their feet.


BUSH: So far, the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance.

Yet, as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country.

The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business.

As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice; equal in hope and rich in opportunity.

I think we first need to focus on getting the residents of New Orleans OUT of tents and at LEAST into trailers as they try to rebuild their lives. THEN we can start worrying about the quality of education in that city. Don't put the cart before the horse.

BUSH: A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented and treated and defeated.

More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans.

I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act and provide new funding to states so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America.


We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America.

I'm all for HIV/AIDS research, development, and treatment but I fail to see why it is worthy of mention here.

Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite.

BUSH: We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives.

Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.

Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe and been complicit in the oppression of others.

Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back or finish well?

BUSH: Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage.

Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well.

We will lead freedom's advance.

We will compete and excel in the global economy.

We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land.

And so we move forward optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause and confident of the victories to come.

May God bless America.


All in all, a good speech but not as stirring or as forceful as I would have liked to have seen. He really needs to unpack that big, brass pair he has sitting in a box on the mantle and start putting them to good use again.


- hfs

Air Force Pilot vs. Naval Aviator


The piece is written by Bob Norris, a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange tour flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of entertaining books about U.S. Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off".

In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following:

22 December 2005

Young Man,

Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask ourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black Shoes (surface warfare) and Bubble Heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your ass until you become a
lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore.

Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.


P.S.: Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.

P.S.S. And oh yes, the Army pilot program, don't even think about it unless you got a pair bigger than basketballs. Those guys are completely crazy.


- hfs


Fabulous Fours

CaliValleyGirl nailed me.

4 Jobs You Have Had In Your Life
1. high school health teacher - best form of birth control known to man!
2. swim coach - Those who can...do. Those who can't...teach. I was never a stellar swimmer but I loved coaching!
3. lifeguard - funny considering I am as pale as a ghost!
4. pool manager- (sensing a theme here?)

4 Movies You Would Watch Over and Over
1. LA Confidential - Russell Crowe before he became popular...yum!!!
2. Star Wars (the original 3) - I was 5 when the original came out...it's all I ever knew!
3. Bull Durham Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.
4. Jungle Book - Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue ?

4 Places You Have Lived
1. Southern California - no desire to go back, really
2. Northern Colorado - can't WAIT to go back!!!
3. Alaska - hoping to go back there next!
4. Hawaii - ah, paradise...

4 TV Shows You Love to Watch
1. ER - I am an adrenaline junkie!
2. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - restores my faith in humanity every Sunday night
3. Trauma: LIfe in the ER - see #1
4. The Shield it's like "The Commish" on heroin

4 Places You Have Been On Vacation
1. Colorado - the entire 4+ years we were there were vacation!
2. Florida - Disney World and Saint Andrews state beach park
3. Big Bear, California - any trip without kids can be considered a vacation!
4. New Orleans - before Katrina. I didn't get down to the French Quarter due to time constraints and I regret that immensely

4 Websites You Visit Daily
1. look to your left
2. look to your left
3. look to your left
4. look to your left

4 Favorite Foods
1. dark chocolate
2. bittersweet chocolate
3. milk chocolate
4. hot chocolate

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now
1. in bed
2. in Colorado
3. in Alaska
4. sitting at In & Out eating a burger, fries, and a milkshake!

4 People to Tag
1. ...PZ Control because he's new and I want to know more about him (curiousity killed the cat...meow)
2. Politics of a Patriot because she passed her PFT...
3. Fuzzilicious Thinking because it sounds like she needs a pick-me-up
4. Life as I Know It because she's not going to have time for this stuff in about 8 months...


- hfs


Parents' Night Out

Living away from family and close friends can be tough, especially if you have children. I'm not one to trust my kids with people I don't know WELL so finding time and opportunity to go out for the evening with my husband can be difficult. Luckily, the CDC (Child Development Center) on post hosts "Parents' Night Out" each month. It's wonderful! I know the staff there and my kids know them. I have the kids enrolled there and utilize the hourly care occasionally so they are familiar with the facility and the staff.

"Parents' Night Out" gives MacGyver and I a chance to actually go on a DATE. Last night, we had gift certificates to Macaroni Grill so we headed downtown to wander around the Ala Moana mall and grab dinner together. One of the stores we wandered into was Williams-Sonoma. Definitely one of my favorites and definitely out of my league. But it's nice to browse. As we were browsing, we came across this incredible range. MacGyver was gutsy enough to ask it's price...$32,000. You can catch a glimpse of it HERE. Yes, that is a $32 with THREE zeroes behind it. All together, all of the vehicles we own do not add up to that much money. The first person that popped into my mind was the Food Whore herself. I'm sure she is well-versed in pieces of art such as this but this was a new experience for me. I was in awe. I tried not to drool on it. Really.

But, wow.

One of these days, when we build our dream house up in the Rocky Mountains, I *might*...just MIGHT...have something like this. Doubt it, but a girl can dream, right?

The food was good - I would definitely recommend the Pasta Milano. Good flavor, good portion. And it helped that the gift certificates we had offset the cost of the entire meal by at least 50%. Then, to top off the evening, we stopped at Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream. Yum.

It was great to reconnect with MacGyver too. Rarely do we get time to just hang out like we used to. I'm not bemoaning that fact - I love spending time as a family with the kids. But I savor the time MacGyver and I have on our own too. I'm sure as this deployment draws closer, I'll savor it even more.

Regarding my last post, I wanted to clarify the fact that I'm not really frustrated with the FRG. Or even the command, really (though, if I find out that they knew about the deployment orders and held off on getting the word out, I might be a little irked). My frustration lies with the fact that someone leaked it to the media before the chain of command was able to properly let the families know. This deployment is shocking news to NO ONE, though the news story would have you believe otherwise, but it is (in my opinion) disrespectful to the families of those being deployed to jump the gun and not allow to find out through traditional channels.

I'm bitching over NOTHING. Really. I know that. It just hit me wrong at the moment so I vented. I have a feeling that I will be doing that a lot more as time goes on. But for now, my hackles are back down and life is good.

I just got done reading a new military spouse book, While They're at War. The author is a military spouse - her husband is a chaplain - and a Quaker who wrestled with her how feelings on the war as well as telling the story of several other military spouses who faced the deployment of their loved ones. I would definitely rank it as one of the better military spouse-written books I have read. There were times, as she described the notification process when a soldier had died, that I had to put the book down and walk away. Not a good idea to burst into tears at your daughter's dance class...

But she did a good job detailing a lot of the assistance that is available to spouses and families during a deployment as well as taking a pretty non-judgemental look at how different people cope with a deployment. I would definitely recommend reading this one.

MacGyver pointed out that, even though he won't be around for our anniversary this year, he WILL be here for our anniversary NEXT year which will be the big 1-0. I hadn't thought about that. Before we found out we were moving to Hawaii, we talked about what we would do for our 10th anniversary and it was either a cruise to some place tropical or a trip (sans children) to Colorado for a week. Given our current location, I'm thinking that I will be planning a trip to Colorado. And, given the timing of this deployment, he *should* be getting back just in time. That will be WONDERFUL. And, being the planner that I am, I'll be planning the trip now (even though we are more than 18 months away from taking it) so I can get an idea of cost and start squirreling away money for it.

Colorado in the fall...ah, I can't WAIT!!!

And on that note...


- hfs



It really irritates me to no end when the local news reports that MacGyver's unit received their deployment orders on the 10 o'clock news BEFORE we even hear about it.

The deployment itself isn't a surprise - we've known that was coming. But dammit, I would have liked to have heard it from MacGyver rather than being the one to tell HIM. Would have been nice if the FRG had actually notified us...



- hfs


Random thoughts

First, if I'm not mistaken, SOMEONE has a birthday today. 29, right Matt? Keep an eye out for that FedEx guy.

Second, I was going to post about Joel Stein and his ignorance but I just have no inclination to waste any good f-bombs on such a waste of oxygen. Besides, so many others (who are much more articulate than I) have already done so.

I frequent several military spouse related chat boards. I find that they are a wonderful way to meet other military spouses and can be an incredible lifeline in this nomadic lifestyle I live. The big topic up for debate on one website is that of spouses choosing to stay on this rock vs those who choose to head back to the mainland during a deployment. Some of the people on this board that I am referring to are actually coming across as judgemental toward those who choose to head back to the mainland.

You have to be kidding me! Granted, I pretend to be angry with my good friend who is going through a relatively high risk pregnancy while parenting 2 very creative and energetic small children and facing an impending deployment. All while living thousands of miles away from family and after having done so for 3 years and through 1 other deployment. She knows I'm joking (D...you KNOW I'm joking, right???). It's a personal decision - one that the spouse must make for the best of the FAMILY. The old saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't NO ONE happy." comes to mind. No decision is better or worse than another and NO decision is worthy of judgement from someone who has never walked a mile in my shoes. The audacity of some people just boggles my mind.

We have decided to stay here. It is what is best for THIS family. For my friend, going home is what is best for HER FAMILY. Who can pass judgement on that?

I'm tired. I'm tired of debating and arguing and stressing and worrying and analyzing and dreading. And we're still several months out. Good grief. I think I need a break. Yep. A break. I'll catch you all next week sometime.


- hfs


The Decision Has Been Made (I think...)

So I called transpo today ("transpo" being the "Outbound Household Goods" office) to see if I could track down an answer to the question of whether the Army would pay for non-temporary storage IN ADDITION to maintaining BAH (housing allowance) should a family/spouse decide to leave the island during the upcoming deployment.

During the LAST deployment, they DID - families could have the government come and pack their stuff up, transport it to a military storage facility, store it at government expense, and STILL collect full BAH for this locale. Talk about a windfall...

No. Not this time around. Seems the government lost too much money on that deal last time so they are not going to maintain that policy through this deployment. Damn. I understand but...damn.

So, it looks like the decision has been made. To put all of our stuff in storage here would eat up at least $5,000 of any savings we might realize if I were to move back to the mainland with the kids while MacGyver was deployed. Then we'd also have to buy plane tickets (3 one way for me and the kids, 1 round trip for MacGyver, and then 3 MORE one way tickets to get me and the kids back to Hawaii at the end of the deployment) which would probably (best guess) run us about $6,000. Add to that the fact that I would have to furnish an apartment, find a car, uproot both of the kids (who have just really settled in here), and then do it all again in 10 months.

Financially, I don't see it as being worth it. On an emotional level, both sides were pretty even (going vs. staying put) so we're using the financial bottom line as the litmus test. And the idea of moving back to the mainland appears to have failed.

I'm sad in a way. I would have been closer to my family. Closer to my church family in Alabama. Closer to great friends. I would have been well-taken care of.

At the same time, I feel like a burden has been lifted. I've been struggling with this dilemma for 2 weeks now and it was beginning to wear on me. Now I can begin, mentally, to get into the "deployment mindset" as we inch closer. It's going to SUCK, don't get me wrong, but we'll be ok. Many others have done it and done it well - I have no doubt that we will too. Obviously, the first few days after the unit leaves, I may not seem to be living up to that belief but we'll be ok.

AND, for those of you who were looking forward to me heading back to the mainland during this deployment, rest assurred that I *DO* plan to come visit. The kids and I will be making a trip that direction sometime after the holidays/new year 2007. I'd like to take at LEAST 2 weeks, if not longer, to traipse around the South and visit everyone that I miss dearly. So I'll put you all on notice now that we will need a place to stay!

In the meantime, just remember that there are flights in BOTH directions across the Pacific...


- hfs



One of the things I'm trying to do is to take more pictures while we're here. So I've started carrying our old digital camera with me wherever I need to go. Today I had to head up to the North Shore and stopped along the way to snap a few pictures. It has been raining off and on so the rainbows are plentiful. I missed the best time for this one but you can still faintly see it.


Image hosting by Photobucket
Hale'iwa Palms and Rainbow


- hfs


Creeping up on 25,000

Who'd have thought? Definitely not me! When I started this thing, I didn't think I would have enough to say to warrant a counter so it took me a while to install one.

Granted, my measly 25,000 hits are nothing in comparrison to some of my heroes (see left hand sidebar) but for a firey little red-head from SoCal, it's not bad.

Now, I'm off to yell at the TV as my Broncos fumble around on the field. Where, exactly, DID they leave their defensive line, anyway??? And someone tell Jake Plummer to get a freaking hair cut! He looks like he's the stand in for the lead character from "My Name Is Earl". Sheesh.


- hfs

Spolight blog of the week

This week, it's a blog I read about on Hugh Hewitt's website : Memo To:

Succinct (brevity is the source of wit) and funny as hell - good combination. I know I'm no Hugh Hewitt but I wanted to point out this gem to all 5 of my readers...


- hfs



Regarding the "You might be a liberal if..." post was not a 100% accurate representation of my political and moral beliefs so I feel the need to clarify a few things.

I see myself as a South Park Conservative - my political views fall somewhere in the midst of both Republican and Libertarian. One of my "heroes" is Neal Boortz.

That being said, I need to address my views on the issue of abortion. I am pro-choice. I am NOT pro-abortion...so don't even go there. I do not believe that abortion should ever be used as a form of indiscriminate birth control. But my overriding belief is that the federal government has no right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body.

The Patriotette left a comment on my previous post reminding us that we are talking about a human life. And, while I agree with that wholeheartedly, I have to go back to my belief that the government should not be involved in this decision. Personally, I do not believe in abortion. I do not know (having never been in the situation myself) that I could ever even consider the option, even if my life were at stake. However, this is between me and God. That's it.

Do I believe that the government should make abortion available via tax dollars? No. Again, I refer back to my belief that the federal government should not be involved in this decision. I have no qualms about the government restricting tax dollars in this capacity.

I also believe that Roe v Wade was poorly written and will not b surprised nor upset if it is overturned. Along with being pro-choice, I am also a strong believer in states' rights, which Roe v Wade usurped.

So, to recap...on a moral level, I do not believe in abortion. I do not know that, even under the most dire and horrible circumstances could I ever even consider the possibility. However, I do not think the federal government has any business being involved in this decision.

I know there are a LOT of people out there who disagree with me on this one and that's ok. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs - that is the beauty of this country. Don't like it? Don't read it.

Pretty simple.


- hfs

Oxymoron of the day : "Mandatory Fun"

Because of the changes with MacGyver's unit (they moved from one Batallion to another) and the upcoming deployment, there was a "Family Day" planned. I didn't plan on attending until MacGyver came home and told me it was "mandatory".


"Mandatory fun" usually isn't. Reason number 362 on the list of why I am not in the Army...I don't do well being told what to do. Ask my mother. But MacGyver had to go so I figured we'd go too. Several of our friends went as well which was nice. MacGyver's unit has some good people in it and it's nice to hang with them for a while.

The food was decent. They chose a park that was off the beaten track (i.e. no traffic to worry about with the ankle-biters around) and plenty of space for them to run around. There was also a playground and a sandy volleyball pit. So it wasn't so bad.

After everyone finished eating, they broke out the computer, the projector, and the screen. Yup - a PowerPoint presentation at the park. Gotta love the alliteration...

I didn't catch all of the details - hopefully the Bn Commander will e-mail the PowerPoint slides to the FRG leaders - but he gave a general timeframe (i.e. his best guess since the dates of deployment are still classified) for training exercises, NTC (National Training Center) dates, and block leave dates. I'm still having trouble getting my three most important questions answered though, which is somewhat frustrating :

1.) When is the deployment to take place and for how long?

2.) What, if any, training exercises will MacGyver's unit be involved in and when?

3.) Will the Army/DoD/whomever do as they did LAST deployment and pay for non-temporary storage of household goods while continuing to pay BAH to the families, even if they leave the island for the duration of the deployment.

I understand that #1 is classified and #2 was vaguely answered today. But I'll be damned if I can get any kind of an answer to #3. Grr.

The other thing that makes me scratch my head and wonder if there is a special filter that is given to commanders as they ascend through the ranks. Here's what I don't get...

Your division is tight on funds (which, leading up to a deployment worries me) but plans to go to NTC anyway (makes sense, given the environment in the middle east...kind of makes you wonder why we send anyone to JRTC in the bayou of Louisiana...). BUT, because you are tight on funds, you only plan to take a handful of Chinooks as opposed to the entire unit.

I'm at a loss to understand HOW this helps ANYONE. If you can't send the entire unit and give them the experience of working together - AS A UNIT - in an environment similar to that of the middle east, WHY BOTHER? Why not use the funds for something else? Something that might benefit the ENTIRE unit?

I just don't get it. Maybe someone could explain it to me? I don't know. There are times when I truly wish I could sit down and have a "chat" with the Brigade Commander or even the Division Commander and ask these questions (without making my husband's life more difficult the next day). Maybe I could just send them the link to this blog...? Heck, they probably read it already anyway.

Yeah, right.


- hfs


A few things that tick me off

* If you're going to have a sign in sheet next to a sign that states, "Please sign in and have a seat. You will be called in the order in which you signed in" then fortheloveofGod CALL PEOPLE UP IN THAT ORDER!!! Don't get so distracted by the pretty little pictures on your computer screen that you fail to DO YOUR JOB.

* If your posted hours are from 9am to 5pm, then open your phone lines AT 9am and do NOT close them until 5pm. Otherwise, CHANGE YOUR FRIGGIN HOURS.

* If the promotional deal is no longer taking place, TAKE DOWN THE SIGN THAT ADVERTISES IT!!! Otherwise, be ready for me to be disappointed. And I don't *do* disappointment well at all.

* DO NOT make me slow down on the freeway just because YOU didn't want to slow down and chose to swerve out from behind the car in front of you and INTO my lane. If you do, be ready for me to crawl up on your tail and lay on my horn. I'm from SoCal...that's just how we DO things.

* AND, if you DO cut me off (going a whopping 45 mph in a 55mph zone), DON'T flip me off because I get to close to your tail end. What did you EXPECT me to do? Counteract the forces of forward momentum?

*whew* There...I feel MUCH better now. Idiots.

And, can someone tell me WHY it is that my husband gets grief because the cycling socks he wears to PT formation aren't white (they are either yellow or cammoflauge) but he CAN wear his cycling shoes to the same formation?? WTF? Who the hell MAKES these rules? Did it occur to anyone how assinine these rules ARE? I'm not griping about the color of the socks being at issue. My beef is over the fact that you can make a big deal about the color of socks but not have any qualms over the footwear.

Reason number 417 why I could never handle being in the Army...


- hfs

You might be a liberal if...

From Right Minded

You might be a liberal if...

You believe public invocation of God's name is unconstitutional, unless it is quickly followed by an expletive.

You believe in doing everything for the children, including aborting them.

You dismiss Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as nothing more than actors, but find solace in the leftist political views of George Clooney, Martin Sheen, and Tim Robbins, who are actors.

You believe the U.S. Supreme Court -- and not 271 legally-chosen electors -- selected George W. Bush as President.

You believe President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are evil, but you have a soft place in your heart for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

You believe child pornography deserves constitutional protection, but the Ten Commandments don't.

You believe you are generous and caring by voting for candidates who promise to take the money of others to pay for government entitlements, while donating very little, if any, of your own income to charity.

You believe Republicans are racist, even though a Democrat coined the slogan "segregation forever," and the only former Klansman in the U.S. Congress is also a Democrat.

You believe military ventures into Haiti and Bosnia were worthwhile, but, being a self-described civil-rights champion, you find the liberation of the Afghan and Iraqi people from tyranny and oppression as a misguided endeavor.

You call yourself "pro-choice," but don't believe parents should have access to school choice through vouchers, and that workers shouldn't have investment choice through Social Security privatization.

You believe in affirmative action, but oppose the installation of such notable minorities as Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown on the federal judiciary.

You worship at the altar of diversity and tolerance, but can't seem to make room at your altar for intelligent design or abstinence education.

You believe capitalism is inherently evil because it encourages survival-of-the-fittest, but eagerly accept Darwinian evolution, and its survival-of-the-fittest explanation for the origin of the species, as the natural order of things.

You were never particularly bothered by the violent content of typical Hollywood fare -- until "The Passion of the Christ."

You believe the right to abortion is protected by the U.S. Constitution, but the right to bear arms, which is explicitly protected by the Second Amendment, isn't.

You believe that if an individual chain smokes and eats fast-food every day, then his poor health is the fault of Joe Camel and Ronald McDonald.

You believe that wealthy Republicans are out-of-touch with the average citizen, but admire multi-millionaire Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry because you believe they understand the plight of the common man.

Appending the prepositional phrase "for the rich" to end of the words "tax cut" comes as naturally to you as breathing.

You shrug your shoulders at Internet pornography in public libraries, abrasive language on network television, and partial-birth abortion, but the phrase "Choose Life" shakes you to the core.


- hfs


Soldiers' Angels needs help

Angels Needed

Soldiers' Angels has received over 500 adoption submissions from soldiers during the past week. These men and women have volunteered to serve our country and deserve our support.

Although SA has a "re-enlistment" rate of about 75% among existing Angels who re-adopt after their soldiers' redeployments, we would love to welcome new Angels to the SA family!

If you've been thinking about doing SOMETHING, now is your chance. Becoming a Soldiers' Angel is not hard nor is it expensive. And it's rewarding.

Speaking of becoming a Soldiers' Angel, I'm getting ready to send off my first care package to Dan (my adopted soldier). Nothing fancy - some Hawaiiana (cookies, coffee, chocolate covered macadamia nuts) and some Valentine's candy along with a handmade card from Princess Trouble. Nice and simple. See? Nothing to it. While I'm at the PO, I'll be picking up some "Flat Rate" boxes to use next time around (need to start getting a care package ready to send to BIL in Afghanistan. I'm going for the "Happy St. Patrick's Day theme...any suggestions? Legal ones...please).

Getting back to the original reason for the post, Soldiers' Angels needs your help. They are an amazing organization with a pure purpose - that is something that cannot be said about many philanthropic organizations these days. You can find out more about Soldiers' Angels HERE.

And, if outright adoption of a soldier isn't for you, there is another opportunity: The Letter Writing Team. Less committment, full impact.



- hfs


I wish, I wish

Greyhawk has a WONDERFUL post up. I'm not even going to try to explain it. Go and read : 60 Minutes with Murtha, and Me



- hfs


Matt, over at Blackfive has a wonderful post up about a visit he was able to make this week. I'm a firm believer in the fact that no one can do everything but everyone can do SOMETHING.

"If you can't pick up a rifle, then do something.

Great read from one of my favorites.


- hfs



Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Like I mentioned in my previous post, several of my friends are planning on heading back to the mainland for the duration of the upcoming deployment. I've toyed with the idea and can't seem to settle on one side of the fence or the other.

My parents sold my childhood home and moved to another state just as I was graduating from high school. While I still consider SoCal my hometown, it is no longer home for me. Neither is the state in which my parents currently reside. Colorado is the closest thing to "home" (aside from any place my husband, my kids, and myself currently live) that I have yet it's not necessarily somewhere I would just up and move to for a year without MacGyver with me.

Moving back to the mainland would be done for one reason and one reason only : $$$$$. Our housing allowance would remain the same - based on MacGyver's current duty station (Hawaii). Between the housing allowance and the extra money that a deployment brings (hostile fire pay, family separation pay, etc.), we could stand to save up a LOT of extra money.



I'd need to move somewhere that the rent was cheap, where I could find something furnished (our household goods would be placed in non-temporary storage here in Hawaii), and where I could find a good base of support. The only place that is coming to mind is Alabama. Close enough to a military installation that I know, close to a church that is near and dear to my heart (something I've been missing a LOT lately), I have a wide group of friends who love my kids tremendously, I'm close enough to my parents to pop up and see them on a regular basis, close enough to other friends to go see them on a regular basis as well. The cost of living down there is low. We could do well on the financial side of things. After running a few numbers, we're talking almost a $20,000 difference in savings based on raw numbers. Woah.

HOWEVER, it would mean uprooting my kids at a time that they will be facing MORE than enough challenges and changes. It would mean living without our creature comforts for a year on top of living without MacGyver for a year. I'd have to buy another car (and because we buy used, I'd be gambling with its reliability at a time when my personal mechanic is "out of town")...

I'd be away from the unit, the FRG (though it's not much to speak of yet), and the center of information for this division. Granted, so will many other people and I'm sure the division has contingency plans for all of that but, being that this will be my first deployment, I'm thinking it might be wise just to stay put.

I just don't know. I know I don't need to make this decision RIGHT NOW but it does need to be made soon. I'd need to find a place to live, a school for Princess Trouble, somewhere to store ALL of our household goods (ugh...I didn't figure THAT cost into the numbers...), figure out WHEN to move (there is our LEASE to contend with...), WHEN to put stuff in storage, etc.

The EASY thing would be to stay put. But I'm not sure the EASY thing to do is the RIGHT thing to do...


- hfs


Hail and Farewell

MacGyver's unit is making a change. The Army is converting the unit into a GSAB unit. I'm not clear on what the exact details of a GSAB unit are but basically (this is my un-technical understanding) they are taking all of the pilots and crew and moving them to their own unit. Maitenance and all of the other support elements of the current unit are going elsewhere.

I'm not really a fan of this idea. I understand the logic behind it and I see the proported benefits of a setup such as this BUT...I worry that Chinook units are going to lose that which is the one thing that sets them apart from the rest of the Army (the "Real Army" and MacGyver and I call it): the blurred lines between officer and enlisted, the symbiotic relationship and familiarity that exists between both sides of the house.

When we were in Alaska, we were invited to a BBQ at one of the pilots' houses. He was a senior warrant (still is) and his wife was the head of the FRG and a really sweet person. Others in attendance were another senior warrant pilot and 2 senior NCOs - both flight platoon leaders. MacGyver, at the time, was an E4. So, here we are, and E4 family, hanging out and drinking beers with a couple of senior warrants (and 2 of the most respected pilots in the unit) and 2 senior NCOs (again, 2 of the most respected enlisted personnel in the unit). And it was NORMAL. I doubt seriously that you would EVER see that happen in any other type of unit.

But the Chinook community is different than most other units. The pilots (warrants and RLOs) depend on the crew (enlisted personnel) just as much as the crew depend on the pilots when it comes to staying alive. It's a symbiotic relationship and it lends a certain "flavor" to the community. It blurs the traditional Army/military lines between officer and enlisted. And I can't imagine life any other way.

But that may be changing with the coming of the GSAB. We shall see.

On to last night...

The unit just returned from Pakistan about a month ago. And, in a few days, the unit will be breaking up due to the GSAB conversion. There are some new people in the unit and some people who will be heading off to new duty stations. So it was time to have a Hail and Farewell. Usually these events are held at restaurants or other public gathering spots but this one was at the commander's house instead. I'll reserve my judgement of the event's location...

The evening was mostly good - there are a lot of people in the unit that I enjoy spending time with. And my kids had a good time playing with all of the other kids that were there. All in all, it was a good time. If you ignore the fact that the commander has yet to shake the "frat boy" mindset (think keg stands...). And they are already starting to do the "hooah" talk about ramping up for the deployment and "making sure all of your loved ones come back alive, safe and sound!" Well, duh. I sure as hell hope you plan on doing everything you can to ensure that one. Sheesh.

I'm not a fan of the "big buildup". And MY "big buildup" has been going on now since June of 2004. When we left Fort Rucker for Fort Campbell, I began to mentally prepare myself for a deployment. We had yet to endure one. But then we got orders to move here and dodged the 101st deployment. But my brain is still in "prep mode" and has been since we headed to Campbell. It's a bit draining. I'm almost to the point of "Just GO and get it over with!" Not really but occasionally I get to feeling like that. And I don't talk about it much because I am one of only a few who has yet to GO through a deployment - I don't want to put my foot in my mouth around those who have "been there, done that, got the T shirt". But the buildup sucks and sometimes, I'd almost rather just have a good 48 hours' notice.

Many of my friend are going to be leaving the island during (prior to) this deployment and I'm quite sad about that. The deployment is going to be hard enough without the added stress of not having anyone to play with. But I understand. Don't like it but I understand.

Ok, enough of that. Today is "Beach and BBQ Day". We are heading to the beach and then coming back here to BBQ with friends. Should be a good day. But I need to tidy up the house before we go anywhere.


- hfs


Until then...

Until then...

h/t MoneyShotSix over at One Marine's View. And, if you like what Captain B. has to say on his blog, go read the interview he did with Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive. I knew I liked the man the moment he started quoting Bull Durham...


- hfs



There is quite the discussion going on both at Blackfive and Mudville Gazette over the Washington Post's decision NOT to print a letter written by Robert Stokley who lost his son in Iraq. The letter was written in response to an article that the Post ran, titled "A Life, Wasted". I am not providing the link to the story because I am not willing to give the Post any publicity other than to mention the article to provide context for Mr. Stokley's letter.

The discussions led me to an article on NPR titled Sgt. Rafael Peralta, American Hero. Our society uses the word "hero" in such a nonchalant manner at times that I'm afraid we've lost sight of the true meaning of the word.

Sgt. Peralta epitomizes the word "hero". The only way we can honor his actions and the man that he was is to tell his story. And the only way you can tell his story is to go read it.

Kaemmerer recounts how later on the night of Nov. 15, a friend approached him and said: "You're still here; don't forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today." Don't forget. Good advice for all of us.


- hfs


Judge Edward J. Cashman - update

"Chris" posted an address in my comments section suggesting that he "deserves to hear the outcry his shameful sentence has produced". While I am thankful to him for doing so, I have a feeling that is the Judge's personal address and, while I am partially inclined to take my beautiful baby girl on a cross country trip to Vermont and have a nice sit-down with Judge Cashman, I think writing to him at his office address is more advisable. So, here it is:

Honorable Edward J. Cashman

Addison District Court

7 Mahady Court

Middlebury, Vermont 05753

(h/t Middle America)

I wholeheartedly agree that Judge Cashman hear from us.


- hfs

This week's spotlight...

...shines on Camp Katrina blog.

"Proving that the United States' military does much more than kill people and break things", Spc. Phil Van Treuren highlights some of the humanitarian efforts of the US military as well as some of the good news about our military that the MSM often fails to put out there.

From the website:
Go camping every weekday for a Mega-Dose of stuff about the U.S. military's humanitarian side.

At Camp Katrina, we're telling the good news about our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines!


The Camp Katrina Blog was originally created to share the stories of soldiers who were mobilized in Operation Vigilant Relief following Hurricane Katrina. Since then, the blog has evolved to focus on stories and good news showing that our military is the most virtuous humanitarian force in the world.

And since Operation Vigilant Relief stands as such a great example of the humanitarian work our military does, we stuck with the name.


And I'm not the only one to feel this way about this blog. Mister Snitch has highlighted Camp Katrina as one of the blogs that should be turned into a TV show. The current debate on CKB is WHO should play Spc. Treuren on the show. Matt LeBlanc and Nick Lachey have been mentioned but I suspect that neither of them could handle the portrayal of intelligence very well. I'll have to ponder this a bit before I cast my vote.

Head on over to Camp Katrina and check it out!


- hfs


Monday Monday Monday

I wanted to talk a little more about Soldiers' Angels. Holly Aho has a post up about her delivery of a laptop from Project Valour-IT. You can read about it HERE. What an incredible person (I'll let you figure out who I am talking about!).

Holly also posts about another way you can get involved. Adopting a soldier is a big committment - one that many people are unable to make. And that's ok - not everyone has the time, the money, or the inclination to do so. But if you ARE wanting to help, there IS a way you can...join the "LETTER WRITING TEAM". Kind of like "Pen Pals in BDUs" (or is that DCUs? ACUs? aw, heck...).

In my own personal SA news, I just popped off a letter to my adopted soldier...we'll call him Dan (don't want to divulge his real name but it's easier than saying "my adopted soldier"). Nothing huge - just a "hi! how are ya?" letter along with a handy little survey that will help me get to know Dan and (hopefully) send him care packages he enjoys. Which reminds me, it's about time to put another one together for BIL (the one in Afghanistan).


One of the first things I do in the morning is check Greyhawk's Dawn Patrol (actually it's Mrs. Greyhawk that usually puts it together!) and this morning, I read something that made my blood boil and made me smile at the same time. All I have to say about it is I sure wish I had been there! Go SMASH!!!

SMASH vs. the Moonbats

Talk about calling someone out on the carpet. Awesome. Simply awesome!!!

That's about it for now. Our health seems to be back on track (though I'm not feeling 100% but I slept horribly last night so I'm chalking it up to that). MacGyver is back at work today (thank GOODNESS!!!) and the kids are good. Hopefully that will be our one big "sick" for the year.


- hfs


Judge Cashman must be fired (warning...foul language)

State's judicial system failed abused child

Judge gives child-rapist 60-day sentence
No longer believes in punishment: 'Anger doesn't solve anything'

Claiming he no longer believes in punishment, a Vermont judge issued a 60-day sentence to a man who confessed to repeatedly raping a girl over a four-year period, beginning when she was 7 years old.

Cashman said he's more concerned now about rehabilitation.

"The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul," Cashman told a packed Burlington courtroom made up mostly of people related to the victim.

I am sitting here with my jaw in my lap. I am speechless. I would try to wrap my brain around the logic behind this sentencing, if there were any. But there is not one shred of logic attached to this in any way.

This "judge" no longer believes in punishment? Then he can no longer do the job he was hired to do and should subsequently be FIRED. Immediately.

Mark Hulett ADMITTED that he raped this child countless times. A CHILD. He RAPED a CHILD REPEATEDLY over the course of FOUR YEARS. And this judge doesn't think he belongs in jail.

Actually, I happen to agree with Judge Cashman on this point. This deviant does not belong in jail. He belongs UNDER it.

I'm not sure what infuriates me more about this...the fact that the child upon which these crimes were perpretrated will have to share the streets with this animal or the fact that MY child will have to share the streets with this animal.

From the Burlington Free Press article:
Cashman defended his ruling by saying that without treatment, a long jail term would only harden Hulett and make him more dangerous when he is released. He seemed to feel that decision would keep society safer from this offender's sexual deviancy in the long run.

BULLSHIT. You want to avoid the dangers that prison "inflicts" upon criminals such as Mark Hulett? Kill him. Execute the sonofabitch and then we don't have to worry about recidivism.

Those of you who have made it past the occasional cuss word in the writings above, please be warned it's going to get worse...

Right now the ONLY things going through my head are obscenities but I will do my best to come up with something semi-coherent.

This animal rapes a child for FOUR years and gets a whopping 60-day sentence because the judge in the case "doesn't believe in punishment"? Excuse me? Then maybe it's about time Judge Cashman looks to find another line of work,. I think it would be a great idea for Judge Cashman to go to work helping and counseling children who have been through this sort of horrific experience. Maybe THEN he will begin to understand why Mark Hulett should have faced the stiffest penalty the law allows.

What kind of man is this judge? What kind of PERSON puts the well-being of a self-admitted child RAPIST ahead of the well-being of the victim AND THE REST OF SOCIETY? What gain is there to be had by setting this animal free after 60 days? None. Hell, why even bother with 60 days? Why not just say "Fuck it." and let him go right then and there?

Hell, if punishment no longer accomplishes anything then why don't we just do away with jails completely and just build rehabilitation treatment facilities? Because, you know, rehabilitation works SO well.

According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, the recidivism rates over 25 years for child molesters is 39% and for child rapists is 52%. And that, according to the website, is an underestimate. In my opinion, THERE IS NO REHABILITATION TO BE HAD FOR DEVIANTS SUCH AS MARK HULETT. (hat tip to THe Jake Files) So the fact that length of jail time is even fodder for debate is utterly ridiculous. Imposing the death penalty on anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a child would a.) eliminate the possibility of recidivism for THAT individual, b.) send a message to anyone who might be on the fence (if that is possible) about committing a crime such as that, and c.) protect the most vulnerable members of our society...our children. For unless we as a society get serious, and I mean deadly serious, about protecting our children this sort of crime will continue and our children will NEVER be safe.

Instead, we get judges like Judge Cashman who decide to legislate from the bench. Great. So, instead of the judicial system protecting society, he's using it to screw us. Literally. I wonder if he can explain to me (or, better yet, my four year old daughter. Or better than that, the VICTIM) why this animal's "rights" are more important than my daughter's safety. Why is it that my daughter...who has done nothing wrong or illegal in her life...is at the mercy not only of "people" such as Mark Hulett but the courts as well?

Hell, the courts in this country as as guilty as Mark Hulett. The courts continually release predators such as Mark Hulett and allow them repeatedly perpetrate their crimes even though they have been proven to be child molesters and rapists. Short prison terms followed by lenient probation and lax monitoring...sounds like the perfect treatment for a convicted child RAPIST. Advocates for these "people" (how the hell can someone actually stand up and ADVOCATE for people such as this?) say that prisons are too crowded, that prison terms do nothing to prevent recidivism. Ok, fine. Personally speaking, I don't think prison sentences are the appropriate punishment for this type of crime but, if you have read this far, you already know that.

Judge Cashman, I have a proposition for you...since you seem to think that it's ok for MY child to be in the streets along with my children, let's put him on the street with YOUR CHILDREN. If you are so firm in your convictions (no pun intended) about prison time not being effective and treatment being a better option, YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN go live next to him. Put up or shut up you ignorant, ineffective, worthless piece of crap. How DARE you? How dare you NOT DO YOUR JOB? If that animal so much as THINKS about harming another child, YOUR ASS should be thrown in the same hole in the ground as he is.

Anger doesn't serve any purpose? Wanna bet? Give that child's parents immunity, a gun, and 5 minutes alone with Mark Hulett and I'll show you purpose.


- hfs


Drive Aloha!

Having grown up and learned to drive in Southern California and having lived in 6 states since then (not to mention driving in or through 18 others), I feel capable of commenting on the driving habits of drivers in other states. Especially those here in Hawaii.

Hawaii is a different country. That 2500 miles that separates these islands from the "mainland" pretty much guarantees that. The pace of life here is slower...much slower. And, for the most part, so are the drivers. That part, I don't mind so much.

California drivers are a special breed. There are thousands of jokes out there about Los Angeles drivers. And yes, we may be rude. We may be obnoxious. We may speed. My father always told me that defensive driving will save your life. Others have said that Los Angeles drivers do not drive defensively...they drive OFFESIVELY. I beg to differ.

It has often been said that the best defense is a good offense when it comes to football. I believe that same analogy applies to driving in Los Angeles as well. We LA drivers may be rude. We may be obnoxious. We may speed. But we are PREDICTABLE. I KNOW the asshole in the car sitting just off the right front quarter panel of my car WILL cut me off in the near future if given the chance. Therefore I have two options, I can slow down (and risk being anihilated by the rest of the traffic on the freeway) or I can speed up and block the asshole in the car next to me from cutting in front of me. If I don't speed up, he WILL cut in front of me and I WILL have to slam my brakes on and risk being rear-ended at 70 mph by the guy behind me who is, himself, trying to avoid being cut off.

We may be assholes but at least we're PREDICTABLE about it.

Here? Not so much.

I'm driving home from the commissary today (finally made it out of the house by myself!) and the first problem I encounter is just outside of the main gate as that road transitions to the main road leading to the highway. There is no stoplight for the right hand turn lane. There is no stop SIGN for the right hand turn lane. There is no YIELD sign for the right hand turn lane. It's a gently-sloping lane that B-L-E-N-D-S into the traffic on the main road. To most, this would indicate the need to MERGE.

But not here.

Oh, no.

Here, the lane that is supposed to be merging on to the main road tends to come to a complete and screeching halt if there is any indication of ANY traffic in that lane anywhere within a 1 mile radius. God forbid anyone actually use their accelerator to help their car speed up and MATCH the speed of the traffic on the main road.

Obviously, that is asking too much.

The next problem I run into is where the main road turns into the highway. Notice I said nothing about the need to stop/yield/merge. All it requires is gentle pressure on the accelerator. It's really not that hard. For most people. However, the people that seem to have the biggest problem with this concept are usually at the front of the pack.

In BOTH lanes (they travel in pairs).

Luckily, I didn't have to pee and wasn't in a big hurry to get back home so I just drove with the flow. But MAN, this stuff makes my head hurt.

The other difference between LA and other places when it comes to roads and driving is that LA seems to have actually (at some point) hired a civil engineer who knew what the hell he/she was doing! For the most part, transitions between freeways as well as on-ramps and off-ramps tend to flow well, thanks to proper planning on the part of the engineers and planners who designed them.

Here? Yeah, not so much.

There is a part of H1 (one of the 3 main highways on the island) toward downtown that is the biggest Charlie-Foxtrot I have EVER seen in my life. You literally have 2 lanes of high speed traffic on the main highway forced to merge with 2 lanes of high speed traffic from the by-pass freeway (the H201 or Moanalua Highway) by making a pretty sharp right hand TURN (yep, a TURN at 55 mph!). At the same time, the far right lane turns into an "Exit Only" lane about 1/4 of a mile past this Charlie-Foxtrot transition.

So you have 4 lanes of high speed traffic being thrown together with little-to-no buffer space AT THE SAME TIME that the far right lane of cars is trying desperately to get out of the "Exit Only" lane they are now stuck in. Add to that the cars from the 3 LEFT lanes that are trying to get INTO the "Exit Only" lane and you begin to understand why this interchange is PERPETUALLY CLOGGED WITH TRAFFIC. It doesn't matter if it is 4pm or 4am - there is traffic in this location. A nuclear bomb could go off, leaving ONLY the cockroaches to inhabt the earth and THEY would wind up in traffic at this interchange.

And it's not like things get better the further east you go. They get worse! There are so many on- and off-ramps crammed into such a small space (with many of them being "Exit Only" lanes) that each one causes more and more traffic to snarl.

It's enough to make a person cry.

In LA there are only 2 places I can remember being even close to that in terms of Charlie-Foxtrotedness (is that a WORD?): anything between the 5-110 interchange and downtown (it loosens up nicely once you get past 4th I think) and the 5/60/10 interchange just south of downtown. Other than that, I think most of the other CFs have been rectified.

Luckily, there isn't far to travel here on this "medium-sized turd in the Pacific" as a good friend of ours put it so the traffic headaches are minimized. Sure does make you think twice about heading downtown though!


- hfs


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...